Analysis of the Allegory of the Cave

Topics: Truth, Knowledge, Ontology Pages: 3 (1077 words) Published: February 2, 2011
Analysis of the Allegory of The Cave
Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” presents a visualization of people who are slaves that have been chained in front of a fire their whole lives. These people observe the shadows of different things shown on the cave wall that is in front of them. The shadows are the only “reality” the slaves know. This is because they have never seen anything else to compare them to. Plato argues that there is a critical flaw in how people mistake their limited perceptions as reality, as truth, and as what they believe to be what is good. The allegory reveals how the flaw affects our education, our spirituality, and our politics. The flaw that Plato speaks about is how people trust what they see and think it is real. In The Allegory of the Cave, the slaves in the caves know that the shadows, shown on the wall by the fire behind them, are real. If they were to talk to the shadows echoes would make the shadows appear to talk back. To the slaves, as Plato puts it, “the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images….” The allegory also talks about how a slave is later brought out of the cave, in what Plato refers to as “the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world.” Once out of the cave, the slaves discover that what they thought was real is not. They learn to understand all of these new images as what is real and what is true. Since the slaves have been in the dark for all their lives, both literally and metaphorically, the light blinds them. Representing knowledge, the light is too brilliant for them to see and comprehend. The slaves must be re-educated. They have to learn that the reflections are truer than shadows and the objects truer than reflections. They must deal with a new reality that does not exist within the cave. Plato says that these people who are brought out of the cave must go back into the cave to educate the other slaves. But the only people who should be allowed back into the cave are the...
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